Tuesday, June 14, 2016

First Names of the First Ladies #2

Hello, readers!

Today's post is Part 2 of yesterday's post - First Names of the First Ladies #1. Check out the first post if you haven't yet, and tune in for the third and final post tomorrow!

The above photo includes First Ladies (from left to right) Nancy Reagan, Lady Bird Johnson, Hillary Clinton, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford, and Barbara Bush, taken in May of 1994. 

Let's begin!

Florence (Harding)
This lovely name is on the rise again, and I predict it will break into the top 1000 next year (bets, anyone?) Florence means "blooming" or "prosperous", and it quite fits in with the retro trends - Daisy, Beatrice, and Dorothy, for example. While it is rather flowery and feminine, it still holds an air of elegance and strength - perfect for any little girl. 

Frances (Cleveland)
Once old-fashioned, Frances has managed to rise quickly thanks to more than a few celebrity babies. More stylish than Francesca but not as dowdy as Fran, Frances walks the middle ground with grace and poise. The nickname Frankie is also uber-cute and tomboyish. There are millions of historical namesakes, so just pick your favorite!

Grace (Coolidge)
A beautiful virtue name without impossibly high standards - Chastity, Prudence, Modesty - the name Grace has always been an American favorite. It's simple enough for complicated middle or last names, but doesn't lack anything in having only one syllable. Grace is short and sweet, and will probably be used for my future kid(s) - my middle name is Grace

Harriet (Lane)
Classic and abundantly literary, Harriet hasn't made the top 1000 in awhile; it's been surpassed by its nickname, Hattie. But Harriet is a force to be reckoned with - namesakes Stowe and Tubman give it a courageous history, the meaning of "estate ruler" grounds it in power, and its sound is ladylike but determined. Pretty soon, we'll all spy Harriet on our lists. 

Helen (Taft)
While I reviewed English variation Ellen yesterday, Helen is closer to the original Greek. The daughter of Leda and Zeus, Helen of Troy is known as the most beautiful woman of her time. Today, Helen is on the decline, but it's by no means dated or fusty. Names Helena, Nellie, Leni and Olena are among the many versions of this established choice. 

Hillary (Clinton)
She really needs no introduction - if you haven't heard, she's running for president - and she may be the most famous Hillary in history! The name began to decline when it was associated with her as the First Lady in the 1990's, but its meaning of "cheerful" and upbeat sound are still nice to consider. I do warn against choosing this name, at least until there are a few more namesakes attached to it. 

Ida (McKinley)
With names like Ava and Ada sweeping through birth announcements, Ida would fit right in! It means "hardworking" and has a kind of vintage tenacity about it. Ida is simple and easy to pronounce, and it is currently rather popular in Scandinavian countries. Namesake Ida Lupino was an early director in Hollywood at a time when women were even less accepted as bosses - girl power!

Jacqueline (Kennedy)
It jumped almost 70 places in the first two years of the Kennedy administration - needless to say, Jackie Kennedy had a major impact. Jacqueline only recently left the top 200, and might still be too popular for some namers to choose. However, Jacqueline is a distant female form of James, and could be used as a familial honorific. 

Jane (Pierce)
With over 1100 little Jane's born last year, its no surprise that this once plain name has totally reworked its image. Jane, like Jean and Joan, is a feminine variation of John, but somehow surpasses the other three names in grace and fortitude. Jane Austen is one literary example, but Jane abounds in all aspects of popular culture. 

Julia (Tyler, Grant)
It's only recently traded popularity with sister Julie, but Julia has a long history of loveliness. Ancient Rome was full of powerful Julia's, Julia's are plentiful in athletics and theater, and even the Beatles wrote an ode to one (John Lennon's mother, Julia Lennon). It means "youthful", and will age well with the wearer. 

Laura (Bush)
A solid, upstanding, womanly name, Laura only recently began to fall out of favor - don't worry, it's still in the top 400. Another name found in all contexts, Laura comes from the Latin for "bay laurel". It's been in use since at least the ninth century, though I'd imagine many young female Americans were introduced to the name via Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

Letitia (Tyler)
I was very surprised to find Letitia on this list - it's so much more ornate than many of the subdued classics here! It means "happiness", and offers cute nicknames Lettie and Tish. The original, even more decorated form is Laetitia, and Lettice was used occasionally in England (though the whole vegetable connection is a bit too close for comfort). 

Lou (Hoover)
What luck! I completed a whole post on Lou last week - check it out here!

Tune in tomorrow for the final post on this topic!

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